By ALPHONSE BARIASI
LAST Saturday Papua New Guinea Bible Church believers throughout the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of the birth of the church.
The church was said to have started with the arrival on Aug 24, 1948 of American missionary Green Tolbert (GT) Bustin and setting up his mission work at Pabarabuk in Western Highlands.
Later in the 1950s Bustin arranged for more missionaries to assist him and build mission stations in Western Highlands and Southern Highlands initially before the faith spread to other parts of PNG.
In comparison to other Christian churches arriving in the country, the Bible Church missionaries were relative late arrivals.
The message of holiness by the PNG Bible Church, following the work of GT Bustin spread to Western Highlands, Enga and Southern Highlands,
The focus of the anniversary celebrations was to challenge the young generation to see beyond to extend the work of God.
The church today has 800 local churches, 24 church districts and two seminaries. Celebrations in Port Moresby, involving delegates from PNG Bible Church congregations throughout the Southern region were held at the North Waigani church.
The programme started in the morning with a march from the University of PNG to the North Waigani Church where representatives from Milne Bay, Northern, Gulf and Central were presented with brand new Tok Pisin bibles to signify a handing over of the gospel and a charge to carry on the work of God in those places.
Later, during the main church services, a number of church leaders and elders were awarded certificates in recognition of their work in spread the faith and the message of holiness.
Among them were the first missionary of the church to Nigeria, Pilipo Miriye, former PNG Power Ltd chairman Andrew Ogil and businessman Fred Tulia.
Speaking during the church service, Ogil urged the young followers of the faith to “stand tall for God and against corruption.”
Head pastor of the Southern region and deputy chairman of the national church Rev Moresby Tunge said the PNG Bible Church was a growing church and the participation by Sunday school children and youths during the gathering on the day was ample proof of that.
The church also holds the broadcasting licence under which the inter-denominational Wantok Radio Light operates.
Many, especially in the Highland region, who have been taught by missionaries of the church have become successful leaders and business people today are testament to the church’s influence.
Similar celebrations held in Port Moresby were also held in other parts of the country. Here are snapshots of three leaders of the church interviewed last Saturday during the Southern Region celebrations in Port Moresby.
By ALPHONSE BARIASI